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Remains of Frankfort soldier missing since 1944 will be returning home
Gerry Peckham of the Town of Madison could not believe the call her family recently received.
"They found bone remains," she said. "They found my uncle's dog tags, zippers, a thermos, a knife."
Peckham's uncle, Dominick Licari, was a Sergeant in the U.S. Army Air Corps was the gunner in an A-20 bomber that was last heard from the night of March 13, 1944 as it returned from a successful mission against the Japanese in New Guinea, but never returned to its U.S. base in New Guinea.
Peckham says the whole family just broke down when they heard the news that his remains had been recovered some 69 years later.
"When we first heard, it brought tears to my eyes," Peckham said. "Because as far back as I can remember, especially going to my aunt Anna's house and the story would come out that he was missing in action in World War II."
Now that story will be forever changed, thanks to the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command or JPAC, a task force within the Department of Defense which Peckham says located part of a plane via a satellite from high above, and that led to the discovery of human remains.
The A-20 bomber Licari and his pilot were on, were among a total of nine A-20 two-man planes that took part in that mission against the Japanese that day.
There were three groups of three planes, and Licari's group of three apparently crashed right into the side of a mountain in New Guinea.
Peckham says maps that JPAC provided the family shows where in New Guinea that mountain range was.
"They completed their mission. It was successful," she said. "They had to climb to get over the mountains and they were in formation, and three planes didn't climb high enough, apparently. And they said when they found them, that's how they found them, in formation. So they just slammed into the mountains."
Sgt. Licari could have been buried at Arlington National Cemetery, but Peckham says her family knew that he would have wanted to return home. Her Aunt Anna, who lived in Frankfort until her passing a few years ago, actually believed that one day he would be found.
"She made arrangements with Iocovozzi Funeral Home in Frankfort," Peckham said. "Made them promise that if they ever found her brother, that they'd bring him home to Frankfort. So he's coming home to Frankfort."
Sgt. Licari's remains are expected to be returned home sometime next week.
Once the funeral arrangements are finalized, we will pass them along.